Cannabis vape pens are trendy small electronic devices common among medical marijuana patients. They’re also referred to as vape pens and provide an easier and more comfortable way of consuming cannabis. Despite the convenience it provides, and ease of use, a cannabis vape pen might not be safe.
There’s a general assumption that vaping is a safer method of marijuana administration than marijuana smoke because the latter contain harmful substances that may cause lung irritation. Vape pen, on the other hand, heats the cannabis oil concentrate or flower without burning it. This way, only the active constituents will be inhaled. This method appears safe, but there are some safety concerns about cannabis vape pens that should be considered.
Why is Cannabis Vape Pen Unsafe?
The major problem with vape pens are:
● Ingredients used in vape pen cartridges
● The heating process
● Lack of regulation
Ingredients Used in Vape Pen Cartridges
Some of the ingredients used in vape pen cartridges are harmful to health. For instance, a common chemical, propylene glycol, is usually mixed with cannabis oil in many vape pen cartridges. It is also a common ingredient in e-cigarette and other household items like antifreeze, cosmetics, pet food, etc. Although the FDA has approved the use of propyl glycol as being safe for consumption, its inhalation has proven harmful.
Flavoring compounds like propionyl and diacyl used in some vape oil cartridges are linked to respiratory illnesses when inhaled and not eaten. Another flavoring compound, Cinnamon Ceylon, also becomes harmful when inhaled rather than eaten.
The Heating Process
When propyl glycol is exposed to high temperatures, it changes to small polymers that can damage the lungs. The heating process of the cannabis vape pen involves a battery-heating system that can change vape oils into harmful chemicals.
In 2010, a research finding was published in the International Journal of Environmental and Public Health, and a conclusion was made that when airborne propyl glycol circulates indoors, it can be harmful to the lungs as aggravate asthma and other allergic reactions. This is why heating this chemical in boiling oil, like the vape pen cartridge, can be harmful for inhalation.
Also, aside from propyl glycol, other vaping additives may be harmful as they change to carbonyls when heated under high voltage. Carbonyls like formaldehyde are toxic chemicals that cause cancer, low-birth weight, and unexpected abortions. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, formaldehyde is on the list of Cancer group 1 carcinogenic substances.
There is no conclusive evidence on the harmful effects of using cannabis oil for vape pens or how it has led to dangerous health problems like cancer. The contributing factor is the inadequate labeling done by the producers of vape pens, and there is no trustworthy information on what the vape pen contains. Looking at the possibility of being exposed to harmful health hazards through the use of cannabis vape pens, proper testing of these products becomes highly essential, but this has been a significant challenge for scientists. The contributing factor to these challenges is their inability to determine how much smoke an average vape user inhales, resulting in different results that aren’t comparable.
The major problem with a cannabis vape pen is the heating up process that goes on in the device. There are different types of cannabis vape pens in the market, and they all come with different modes of operations. Some come with buttons while some do not. Also, there is minimal information on how long to heat the oil, which might make a user inhale harmful toxins.
When the heating element in a vape pen gets extremely hot, the oil undergoes smoldering or burning. Some of the oil undergoes combustion, which means that many vape pens in the market today that are referred to as vaporizers may not be real vaporizers.
Lack of Regulation
Lack of regulation is another factor that shows that a vape pen for cannabis oil may not be safe. Since the marijuana industry is relatively new with no legal backing at the federal level, the regulation regarding the production of marijuana is lacking. Although some marijuana oil industries have avoided the use of butane and other harmful chemicals, some do not mind since there is no regulation to check this. So, it becomes almost impossible to know the content of the oil you’re buying, which means there is no guarantee on the safety of your vape pen.